One of the disadvantages of relying on a torture-regime for the facts about the torture they have been practising is that they have an interest in lying. And the job of a journalist in these matters - especially after the torrent of deception that came out of the Bush White House - is to exercise skepticism about the government's claims. National Review, in the Bush era, became a de facto propaganda arm for the government, and no more so than on the question of torture, an issue where one might have imagined a magazine steeped in traditional Catholic ethics, might have been just a little bit honest. But nah. So we had Deroy Murdock in one of the most repulsive columns ever printed in that magazine declaring
Waterboarding is something of which every American should be proud.
Not reluctantly forced to contemplate torture in the last act of desperation to save mass death. But proud. Nonetheless, Murdock was at pains to tell us:
U.S. and Pakistani authorities captured KSM on March 1, 2003 in Rawalpindi, Pakistan. KSM stayed mum for months, often answering questions with Koranic chants. Interrogators eventually waterboarded him for just 90 seconds. KSM “didn’t resist,” one CIA veteran said in the August 13 issue of The New Yorker. “He sang right away. He cracked real quick.” Another CIA official told ABC News: “KSM lasted the longest under water-boarding, about a minute and a half, but once he broke, it never had to be used again.”
Oh really? From the 2005 Bradbury memo:
The CIA used the waterboard "at least 83 times during August 2002" in the interrogation of Zubaydah. IG Report at 90, and 183 times during March 2003 in the interrogation of KSM, see id. at 91.
In this, you see something that occurs in every instance of torture regimes justifying their stance. They invariably minimize what they have been doing, lie about what they found out, and refuse to allow transparency so that the rest of us can find a way back out of a labyrinth of untruth, pure force, and abandoned morals they have constructed. (I await NRO's and Murdock's correction.)
Moreover, it is worth pointing out that even if you accept the preposterous notion that waterboarding isn't torture - something no legal authority in human history ever has before Dick Cheney came along - and even if you accept the amazingly detailed limits that Bradbury placed on the frequency and severity of waterboarding to make it "legal," even then, we now know that the CIA violated those standards.
Here's Bradbury's unhinged Orwellian judgment of how much waterboarding stayed within the boundaries of legality:
[W]here authorized, it may be used for two "sessions" per day of up to two hours. During a session, water may be applied up to six times for ten seconds or longer (but never more than 40 seconds). In a 24-hour period, a detainee may be subjected to up to twelve minutes of water appliaction. See id. at 42. Additionally, the waterboard may be used on as many as five days during a 30-day approval period.
As emptywheel notes,
So: two two-hour sessions a day, with six applications of the waterboard each = 12 applications in a day. Though to get up to the permitted 12 minutes of waterboarding in a day (with each use of the waterboard limited to 40 seconds), you'd need 18 applications in a day. Assuming you use the larger 18 applications in one 24-hour period, and do 18 applications on five days within a month, you've waterboarded 90 times--still just half of what they did to KSM.
So even by the Bush-Cheney standards of legality, the waterboarders far exceeded what was allowed. They broke the law even by Bush's standards. And why, pray, is breaking the law in such a grave matter as a war crime no longer subject to prosecution or even investigation in the United States?
The US is a banana republic if this stuff is allowed to go unpunished. A banana republic with a torture apparatus.
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